Image copyright Getty Images Image caption More than 250 protesters called for Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu to improve customer service
Air Canada has experienced mass protests outside its Toronto hub over the weekend.
Over 500 people staged the “day of rage” demonstration on Sunday in anticipation of more of the same on Tuesday, when Mr Rovinescu is scheduled to give his annual report to the public.
Protesters say they want to demand more French on the company’s site.
Air Canada says it is moving in a direction of better understanding and engagement with francophone stakeholders.
“The Air Canada website includes French language resource information, including a live chat with dedicated customer support agents in French, and is working to increase its French language coverage in 2019,” the airline said in a statement.
The protests came following a tumultuous couple of months for Air Canada, which has had to announce and then delay the closure of its Paris hub due to pilot shortages and a business slowdown.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The protesters wanted to stand up for Air Canada’s clients of French and francophone origin
“We want to stand up for our clients,” the group that organised the demonstration said.
“We have got so little respect from Air Canada for our clients,” Deneine Lamoureux told Canadian broadcaster CBC.
Air Canada has repeatedly angered francophone clients by using French subtitles on its website. It says its system is not designed to display captions at top speed.
A petition calling for Air Canada to improve its language offerings has been signed by more than 1,000 people.
Employees and shareholders join the rallies. A group of them arrive at the airport in a small group, prompting a police escort to escort them out through airport’s security gates.
Travellers given in the mix as the initial clashes involving the air passengers are barely reported.
About a hundred supporters of Air Canada gather outside the airport, less than an hour after the protesters.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A woman leads a group of Air Canada workers who rally outside the airport
A live fire rages outside the auditorium where Mr Rovinescu is giving his report, as workers take turns shouting at him.
Eventually, Air Canada employees stage a walkout, leaving passengers stranded.
“It’s bad. For example, I can’t take a flight because of that. I don’t know if I can get back home because I don’t know how long it’s going to take for them to get here,” traveller Maggie Nisbet told CTV.
Unifor is leading the demonstration and has been criticised by fellow union members at Air Canada’s worksite in Toronto.
Unifor is leading the rally
– Air Canada is part of the Canadian government’s national standards union. It does not have the same pay as other unions which include service sector employees such as airline pilots.
– Unifor says all employees are entitled to more than 80 hours of paid leave each year, although the airline caps all employees’ paid vacation time at 18 days.
– Air Canada is the subject of a history discrimination complaint filed by Unifor. A driver says her experience during a work review unfairly excludes her from future pay increases, including bonuses.
– Two years ago, Unifor and Air Canada reached a deal over the compensation of Unifor members that acknowledged an air industry “drift away from union agreements”.
– Three years ago, Unifor voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining a 100,000 member union called Unifor, which represents workers in industries including the energy sector, manufacturing and transportation.
– The union is affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).